WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, GTD Pro: Round 9, GTD: Round 11
Michelin Pilot Challenge, GS: Round 9
• Three Porsche 911 GT3 R race cars entered for GT-only feature event.
• Points the point in penultimate race.
• Pfaff Motorsports attentions on big picture at VIR.
• Hardpoint homecoming.
• Eight Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport entered in Michelin Pilot Challenge.
Alton, Virginia. For the second time in the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, GT cars will be the headliners for the two-hour, 40-minute Michelin GT Challenge at VIR. The Alton, Virginia-area VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) is the penultimate round of the sports car racing season and Porsche customer programs are deep in contention for titles in nearly every category the German sports car manufacturer has privateer entries on the August 26 – 28 weekend. Porsche will have three of its 510 hp Porsche 911 GT3 R race cars on site with the class championship-leading No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GTD Pro class and two pro-am style entries in the GTD class: the No. 16 Wright Motorsports machine and the No. 99 Hardpoint Porsche. The popular track in the Old Dominion will play host to the ninth of ten rounds of GTD Pro and the 11th of 12 for the GTD class.
Porsche leads the manufacturer standings in GTD Pro with four wins by Pfaff Motorsports in the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R race car.
Eight Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport race cars are on the pre-event entry list for the two-hour Virginia Is For Lovers Grand Prix, round nine of the Michelin Pilot Challenge. The race goes green at 4:40 p.m. ET/1:40 p.m. PT on Saturday, August 27. The road car based Porsche fits the GT4-spec regulations of the GS class.
Porsche has eight wins at VIR since 1999, one less than Chevrolet. The total includes a 2021 GTD class victory by Pfaff Motorsports with drivers Zach Robichon (Canada) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium). In total, Porsche has 22 victories here since 1957 when Bob Holbert won the first event at VIR in Porsche 550 RS. Porsche legend Hurley Haywood won his first race after returning from Vietnam in 1971 behind the wheel of a Brumos Porsche 914/6. In 2006, Patrick Long drove a Porsche-powered Crawford Daytona Prototype with Mike Rockenfeller to an overall victory. Most recently, Porsche won the GTLM class in 2015 and 2019 with the same driver pairing of Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Patrick Pilet (France) in the Porsche 911 RSR.
WeatherTech, GTD Pro Class.
Having won overall at the first GT-only race of the year at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, it is a tempting idea to chase another overall victory at VIR for Pfaff Motorsports. However, the “Plaid Porsche” is focused on the GTD Pro class championship. Adding critical points at this penultimate race going into next October’s finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta is the primary goal. While VIR has proven a good track to Porsche in the past – including last year’s GTD class win by the team itself – the expectation is that other marques will have an advantage at the track in Southern Virginia. As such, drivers Matt Campbell (Australia) and Mathieu Jaminet (France) will focus on the big picture of winning the inaugural GTD Pro class championship. Four wins and five straight podium finishes in eight starts has Pfaff leading the GTD Pro Team title chase by 227 markers over VasserSullivan. Drivers Campbell and Jaminet hold the same lead on Ben Barnicoat, Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor.
2022 Pfaff Motorsports’ race victories include: the Rolex 24 At Daytona – with “works” driver Felipe Nasr (Brazil) joining Campbell and Jaminet – WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Lime Rock Park. The Steve Bortolotti-managed operation also has two podium finishes including third-place at the Six Hours of the Glen and a second-place at Road America.
Porsche has a 197 point lead in the Manufacturer standings over Lexus.
Matt Campbell, Driver, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. GTD Pro.
“It should be interesting. I’ve only been there [VIR] once before, but also in the same car. I think this is really where we’ll see a big difference between all the cars. It’s a very fast, flowing, technical circuit with lots of undulations, so the racing should be really interesting with strategy. Obviously, we’re leading the championship with a huge margin, so we just need a good weekend.”
Mathieu Jaminet, Driver, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. GTD Pro.
“The team was successful last year, but it seems like it’s not really a Porsche track. In our position right now, we just need to focus on finishing the race. If we can have a podium or go for the win, for sure we’ll try to go for it. But for me, it will be about learning the track as quickly as possible and having a clean one. We want to arrive a bit more relaxed to Road Atlanta.”
WeatherTech, GTD Class.
Two Porsche 911 GT3 R race cars are in the 13-car GTD field. The class is identical to the GTD Pro class but with a Pro-Am style driver line-up rather than two professional drivers. Full-season Porsche privateer Wright Motorsports brings the No. 16 for drivers Ryan Hardwick (Atlanta, Georgia) and Jan Heylen (Belgium now living in Florida). The pairing has two victories to-date this season (Daytona and Laguna Seca). Hardpoint returns for the first time in several rounds with driver/team principal Rob Ferriol (Fayetteville, North Carolina) and Katherine Legge (Great Britain) sharing the No. 99 Porsche 911 GT3 R. The race is a homecoming for local favorite Hardpoint. The team is based on the property of the 3.27-mile, 17-turn track.
Hardwick/Heylen closed the gap on GTD Driver championship leader Stevan McAleer to only 36-points at the most recent round at Road America. Wright is the same number of points behind Team Korthoff Motorsports for Team honors. Porsche is in fifth place of the GTD Manufacturer’s battle with a 226 deficit to the leader.
Ryan Hardwick, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“The race for the GTD championship is tightening up, and with only two rounds to go we are right in the fight. Our team is focused on executing every aspect that we can control, which is exactly what has brought us to this point so far this season. Our goal for VIR is to place ourselves in a good position to give us a shot at the championship at Petit. Personally, I love racing at VIR! I really like the flow of the track, and as always, I look forward to the challenge.”
Jan Heylen, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“VIR is an awesome race track. I love going to this circuit because of the people that run it. It's always exciting to go back there. We're in the final two races of the season, and currently second in the championship. We know what to do. It's fun to be chasing the title and I hope we come away from VIR with some points as we did at the last race. I'm really excited to be going there and hopefully have another good race with Ryan for the championship.”
Rob Ferriol, Driver/Team Principal, No. 99 Hardpoint Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“The pressure is always high when the IMSA calendar flips to August. The VIR round is simultaneously the hardest and easiest round on the schedule. With friends, family, and VIPs in attendance, it feels very much like a backyard BBQ to mark the end of Summer, but that also means the expectation is high when we roll out of the garage and onto our favorite American road course. The Full Course at VIR throws everything at you, and by extension, throws everything at your engineering team. You need a nimble car down at the bottom of the track, and you need a fast, slippery car at the top. It means walking and chewing gum at the same time, and it means accepting compromises on both sides to ensure you’ve got a well-balanced car that can carve its way around turns one and four but stay planted as you go flat up the ‘Esses’ in sixth gear.”
Michelin Pilot Challenge, GS Class.
With only two races remaining on the 2022 calendar, Porsche customer teams will bring eight Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport race cars to the GS class of the Michelin Pilot Challenge race at VIR. The two-hour Virginia Is For Lovers Grand Prix will race on Saturday, August 27 beginning at 4:40 p.m. ET/1:40 p.m. PT.
The No. 8 of McCann Racing will be piloted by Andrew Davis (Athens, Georgia) and Michael McCann (Canton, Ohio). Hardpoint’s No. 22 Racing to End Alzheimer’s Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport is coming off its best finish of the season at Road America, where they finished ninth in the GS class. The hometown team will field the car for Sean McAlister (Beverly Hills, California) and Nick Galante (Greenfield, Massachusetts). Team TGM again enters both the No. 46 – with brothers Hugh Plumb (Unionville, Pennsylvania) and Matt Plumb (Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania) – and team principal Ted Giovanis (Highland, Maryland) and Owen Trinkler (Nashville, Tennessee) in the No. 64. Matt Tavis (The Woodlands, Texas) and Jason Hart (Flower Mound, Texas) are back in the Nolasport No. 47 while Kelly Moss has the No. 66 Cayman entered for David Brule (Channing, Michigan) and Alec Udell (The Woodlands, Texas). The team ran in the lead of the most recent round until the closing lap. BGB Motorsports has its formidable pairing of Spencer Pumpelly (Atlanta, Georgia) and Thomas Collingwood (Canada) in the No. 83 Porsche. CarBahn with Peregrine Racing has regulars Mark Siegel (Palo Alto, California) and Tyler McQuarrie (Danville, California) in the No. 93.
Based on the road-going Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS, the mid-engine Clubsport shares its engine with the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car and makes the same approximate 500 hp. Entering round nine, Porsche is third in GS Manufacturer standings 130-points off the Aston-Martin and 110 behind AMG-Mercedes.
Timing. (all times ET)
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Friday, August 26 – Practice 1 – 3:50 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
Saturday, August 27 – Practice 2 – 10:40 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
Saturday, August 27 – Qualifying – GTD/GTD Pro – 3:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 28 – Warm-Up – 8:00 a.m. – 8:20 a.m.
Sunday, August 28 – Michelin Pilot GT Challenge at VIR – 2:10 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
Michelin Pilot Challenge.
Friday, August 26 – Practice 1 – 9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Friday, August 26 – Practice 2 – 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Friday, August 26 – Qualifying – GS – 5:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.
Saturday, August 27 – Virginia is for Lovers Grand Prix – 4:40 p.m. – 6:40 p.m.
The two-hour, 40-minute Michelin GT Challenge at VIR will air on the CNBC, Sunday, August 28 beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT. The Peacock Streaming App will also broadcast live flag-to-flag, coast-to-coast, starting at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT. Additionally, IMSA Radio will have live play-by-play on SiriusXM (XM 207, Internet/App 992) and IMSA.TV.
The Michelin Pilot Challenge Virginia is for Lovers Grand Prix will be aired live, flag-to-flag on the Peacock Streaming App beginning at 4:40 p.m. ET/1:40 p.m., Saturday, August 27. USA Network will re-broadcast the full race on September 4 at 2:00 p.m. ET/ 11:00 a.m. PT.
- Image courtesy of Porsche - Bob Chapman of Autosport Images